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“The space where age, especially ageism, and sexism intersect is part of the diversity agenda and is constantly ignored,” said Noon, founder of a community created to empower middle-aged women. Eleanor Mills says Let her take a five-minute look at the composition of the marketing team. Ageism, especially gender ageism, is a big problem. It is a commercial failure, it is a failure of all women, it is a failure of society.

We live in a culture that undervalues ​​age and experience, and we operate in an industry that is often preoccupied with youth culture. To remain “aspirational,” we create ads that rarely feature middle-aged or older women, and when they do appear, we consistently recruit younger women to play older women. .

British women feel increasingly invisible to advertisers as they age, with 6 in 10 women over the age of 55 saying they are clearly represented, according to a new survey conducted by CPB London. said to be lacking in Of older women in advertising?

Addressing this neglect presents a huge opportunity for brands. According to AARP research, women over the age of 50 account for 27% of her total consumer spending (she is 3% more than men at this age). Meanwhile, according to Barclays, Saga data shows that 70% of her total wealth in the UK is held by people over the age of 50, most of which will be in women’s hands by 2025. expected to pass.

Of course, it’s not just brands overlooking older women. Too many brands are guilty of neglecting the lazy and inaccurate stereotyping of middle-aged women they seek to present. While 63% of respondents feel that young women are positively represented in the advertising industry, only 20% share this view of representing older women.

If you literally have no one on your team who embodies your target audience, you can’t want anyone in that target audience to see themselves in your marketing.

And although they consider themselves female-centric, their misguided efforts to create what they think are positive representations of older women actually contribute to a further layer of social pressure. Consider how beauty brands use the nonsensical word “anti-aging” so widely. It’s surprising to hear that our survey reveals that 77% of women over the age of 45 believe advertising causes them pressure to stay young. not. The Body Shop has lauded the relaunch of the original “Drops of Youth” bestseller this month, now rebranded as his Edelweiss, and intentionally removing references to “anti-aging” from its product marketing. increase.

According to the IPA, the industry’s default position of Youth = Culture + Creativity means that people over the age of 50 currently make up just 6% of the workforce in the advertising community. To put it into perspective, 22% in finance, 28% in medicine, 30% in science, and 35% in law are over the age of 50. Today’s most senior marcomm roles are… very few. If you literally have no one on your team who embodies your target audience, you can’t want anyone in that target audience to see themselves in your marketing. Even much advertising output is dominated by a ‘male lens’ mentality, which only evaluates women’s fertility and imagination.”

Audience Insights

The first step in changing these perspectives is to double down on audience research to truly understand the changing, multi-layered and intersecting factors of older women. Executives (including product developers, strategists, and creatives) are so thin on the ground that they can’t really get real insights out of all the data and actually act on those insights.

Dr. Sarah Welsh, co-founder of sexual wellness company Hanx, summarizes: Considering and addressing the needs of (older) women is very difficult when they are not on your radar. ”

Dreams CMO Jo Martin agrees. But we also don’t know how many men can take it a step further and understand the insights relevant to older women and run with them.

Martin refers to the brand’s high-end Tempur mattress series with CoolTouch technology built-in. It’s an advantage that will immediately appeal to menopausal women reading this, but it hasn’t been actively marketed until now. is a huge opportunity for her to be, as she puts it, “pokey,” in order to ensure that she delivers marketing that speaks to a large portion of Dreams’ target audience in a fresh and relevant way. .

“As an older woman, you see your parents getting older. Things are very complicated and there are any number of brand opportunities that understand this intersection and can speak to you in your language.”

But what about brands that live in fear of alienating younger audiences by proactively addressing the wants and needs of older consumers?

Risks and rewards vary by category, but L’Oréal’s 2019 partnership with Vogue’s “Non-Issue” issue, created for women over 50, offers an interesting lesson. The issue in question sold better than her usual September magazine, and L’Oréal advocated for female empowerment for older women, helping the brand to enter the minds of progressive women in her 30s. said to have cemented its relevance. This fact is in line with our own research, which reveals that young men and women (ages 18-24) most want women to break age stereotypes in advertising. became.

“Generation Z is keenly aware and determined to take responsibility for their biases and stereotypes and hold themselves, society and brands accountable. For them, age is not as divisive as it once was. In Z’s eyes, we are all citizens of the planet and deserve equal representation,” Hanks’ Welsh reminds us.

The economic benefits of properly marketing to older women are clear. By challenging preconceived notions and breaking stereotypes that remind us of our grandmother’s time, marketers have the chance to reach a whole new audience. This audience, which makes up her 25% of the population, is not a niche. Besides, it’s something with serious purchasing power.

But it is not and should not be. Yes, our industry didn’t invent sexism. Times have changed, the tide is changing, and the younger generation expects us to keep up. Marketing and advertising, in their own way, have contributed significantly to major shifts in attitudes about race, disability and sexual orientation. Isn’t it time we made a change in ageism too?

Helen James, Managing Director of agency CPB London and co-founder of Creative Equals/Business, a leadership program and community for women in the creative industry. She is dedicated to enabling women in marketing and creative roles to rise to the top.

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